Adrian Dominican Sisters

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Congregation of the
Most Holy Rosary
Abbreviation OP
Formation 1923; 1944 (pontifical status)
Type religious institute
Headquarters Adrian, Michigan, U.S.
Region served
30 U.S. states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Canada, Dominican Republic, the Philippines,[1]
649 (as of 2017)[2]
Patricia Siemen, OP
Adrian Dominican Sisters Motherhouse

The Adrian Dominican Sisters are a Catholic religious institute of Dominican sisters in the United States. Their motherhouse is in Adrian, Michigan. Their official title is the Congregation of the Most Holy Rosary.

Current mission[edit]

The congregation serves in ministries of education, healthcare and social service and the other ministries that have developed from them. Adrian Dominicans serve in these ministries in 30 US states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Canada, Dominican Republic, Italy, and Swaziland.[1]

The Adrian Dominican Sisters have an associate program consisting of women and men who associate with the vowed members for their own spiritual growth and support in their own ministerial lives under the inspiration of the Dominican tradition.[3] The congregation sponsors two universities, a healthcare system (Catholic Healthcare West) to which its two hospitals belong, and one long term healthcare facility.[3]


The Dominican Sisters of Adrian, Michigan trace their origin to Holy Cross Convent in Regensburg (Ratisbon), Bavaria, a convent established in 1233.[3]

In 1853 four sisters from this convent were sent to New York in response to a request for sisters to provide religious education for German immigrant children. These sisters settled on Second Street in the Williamsburg section of New York City. This original foundation eventually became known as the Amityville Dominicans. In 1869, however, a separate and independent foundation was established at Newburgh, New York. From this congregation sisters were sent to St. Mary Parish (1879) and St. Joseph Parish (1880) in Adrian, Michigan.

In 1884 additional sisters were sent to Adrian to establish a hospital for injured railroad workers. Adrian became a province of the Newburgh congregation with Camilla Madden as the Mother Provincial. As the need for the hospital diminished, Mother Camilla turned to education and opened St. Joseph Academy in 1896. Students came in large numbers to this boarding school and the province grew rapidly with new members. At the same time the congregation was called upon to staff other schools in Michigan, Illinois, Ohio, and New Mexico.[3]

In 1923, through the efforts of Mother Emmanuel Phelan of Newburgh and Mother Camilla Madden, canonical separation of the Adrian province from Newburgh was achieved. Bishop Michael Gallagher of Detroit and Archbishop (later Cardinal) Patrick Hayes of New York negotiated the separation. Mother Camilla Madden became the first Mother General of the new independent congregation in Adrian, a position she held for only six months prior to her death in 1924. At this time the congregation numbered 440 members.[3]

The congregation and its ministries grew during this time. Education continued to be a major endeavor of the congregation during these years. The congregation also developed ministries in social service, particularly in parish visitation, and opened three hospitals, two in Santa Cruz, California (now consolidated at Dominican Santa Cruz Hospital) and one in Henderson, Nevada: St. Rose Dominican Hospital - Rose de Lima Campus. Today there are two additional campuses in Southern Nevada — the Siena (2000) and the San Martín (2006) campuses. Mother Camilla opened St. Joseph College in Adrian (now Siena Heights University) during her time as provincial. Mother Gerald Barry expanded the congregation’s ministry in higher education by opening Barry College in 1940. She also built a House of Studies at The Catholic University of America to accommodate sisters studying for advanced degrees. The congregation grew to over 2000 members.[3]

Under the leadership of Mother Gerald, the congregation achieved pontifical status in 1944 and extended its ministries overseas — to the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, and Peru. In 1959, as the congregation grew in numbers, it was divided into five provinces with headquarters in Detroit, Michigan (2), Chicago, Illinois, West Palm Beach, Florida, and Santa Cruz, California. In addition there was an Overseas Vicariate and a Motherhouse Vicariate. Over the years of leadership of Mother Gerald and her successor, Mother Genevieve Weber, the congregation served in the formation of two new congregations: the Glenmary Sisters (originally located in Cincinnati, Ohio) and the Dominican Sisters of Our Lady of Remedies (Pampanga, Philippines).[3]

Since Vatican II[edit]

The Adrian Dominican congregation entered into its General Chapter of Renewal in 1968 after the Second Vatican Council. This was a time of transition as it was for all United States congregations of women religious. General Councilors became full-time participants with the Prioresses in directing the life in mission of the congregation. Sisters Nadine Foley and Donna Markham (a Councilor at the time) were elected president of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious in the United States. Sisters Nadine Foley and Patricia Walter have represented United States religious women on the Council of the International Union of Superiors General.[3] Nadine Foley also wrote chapter 15 of Transforming the Faiths of our Fathers: Women who Changed American Religion (2004), edited by Ann Braude.[4]

Acting upon the directives sent from Rome after Vatican Council II, the congregation developed new Constitutions that received approval on April 29, 1989. This Constitution and Statutes replaced earlier ones approved in 1937 and 1944. The Constitution incorporated a new governance organization based on Mission Chapters (equivalent to provinces) headed by Chapter Prioresses (provincials). The latter, with the General Council, constitute a Leadership Council which directs the mission of the congregation.[3]

Since Vatican Council II, the Adrian Dominican Sisters have continued their ministries in education and healthcare and expanded their ministries to include professional ministries as university presidents, hospital administrators, directors of literacy centers, directors of theological programs, theologians and professors of theology, liturgical artists, diocesan directors of schools, parish directors of religious education, and retreat directors. The congregation's Ministry Trust fund helps to support projects and ministries of Adrian Dominican Sisters that aid economically poor people, and offer spiritual renewal.

In 2003, the Congregation of Holy Cross and the Dominican Sisters of Edmonds, Washington merged into the Adrian Dominican Sisters.[3] In 2011, the Dominican Sisters of Our Lady of Remedies of San Fernando, Pampanga, the Philippines also merged with the Adrian Dominican Sisters, forming the eighth "Mission Chapter" or unit of governance of the congregation. In a coming around full circle, the community in the Philippines that got its start in partnership with the Adrian Dominican Sisters decided to merge with the Congregation. The Sisters became a Mission Chapter of the Congregation in November 2011: the Our Lady of Remedies Mission Chapter. [5]

In February 2016, after nearly two years of communal reflection, the Adrian Dominican Sisters held their General Chapter, electing Sister Patricia Siemen, OP, as Prioress; Sister Mary Margaret Pachucki, OP, as Vicaress; Sister Frances Nadolny, OP, as Administrator; and Sisters Patricia Harvat, OP, and Elise D. Garcia, OP, as General Councilors. The Chapter delegates also approved four Enactments that they will focus on through General Chapter 2022: deepening their spirituality and engaging with others in prayer and presence; sacrificing to mitigate their impact on climate change and ecological devastation; facilitating and participating in resilient communities with people who are relegated to the margins; and deepening their relationships with one another, inviting others to vowed and Associate life, and expanding collaboration.

As of December 2016, the Congregation had 655 Sisters and 207 Associates, who minister throughout the United States as well as in the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Norway, the Philippines, and Puerto Rico.

Educational institutions[edit]


Mothers General/Prioresses[edit]

The following were either Mothers-General or Prioresses, of the Congregation:

  1. Mother Camilla Madden 1923–1924 (Provincial, 1892–1923)
  2. Mother Augustine Walsh 1924–1933
  3. Mother Gerald Barry 1933–1961
  4. Mother Genevieve Weber 1962-1968
  5. Sister Rosemary Ferguson 1968–1978
  6. Sister Carol Johannes 1978–1986
  7. Sister Nadine Foley 1986–1992
  8. Sister Patricia Walter 1992–1998
  9. Sister Janet Capone 1998–2004
  10. Sister Donna Markham 2004–2010
  11. Sister Attracta Kelly 2010–2016
  12. Sister Patricia Siemen 2016-2022


  1. ^ a b Who We Are from the congregation's website
  2. ^ Annuario Pontifico per l'anno 2013 (Citta del Vaticano: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 2013), 1527.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j The Dominican Sisters of the Congregation of the Most Holy Rosary from the congregation's website
  4. ^ "Table of Contents: Transforming the faiths of our fathers :". Retrieved 2015-04-14. 
  5. ^